behind-the-scenes, X-Men Show

Change the Team?!

There’s a little known fact: we were going to change the X-MEN:TAS team.  We had written the script where four members left and four new ones came on.  It seems hard to imagine now.  One of the strengths of the series is that we had found an excellent balance of diverse characters.  How would we write stories without four of our team, mixing in four new-comers?  The trick is that we were not planning to.  Fox Network had decided to end the series at 65 episodes with a big story that concluded with four members leaving and four, who had proved themselves within the story, replacing them.  The big four-part story was “Beyond Good and Evil,” and we had finished the four scripts — story laid out by Mark Edens and Michael Edens — with heartfelt farewells included.  Then word came down that Fox didn’t want to end the series after all.  They wanted another season (season five).  Oops.  Now I had to go back into “B. G. & E.” and take out all of the story bits that lead to four characters leaving and four new ones stepping in.  Not pleasant.  What was a really well-constructed 88-minute story now needed to be patched together to be something different.  Fast.  Oh, well.  Below are our original ten X-Men (including Morph), plus some guest stars.  See if you can guess which four of our ten was set to leave and who would have replaced them.  Two of the replacements are among those shown below.

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WHO LEFT AND WHO REPLACED THEM?

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Proteus: Villains vs. Threats

Stan Lee liked his villains straight and simple: evil characters to be defeated by heroes.  Mark Edens and I once got in trouble during a “Thor” development meeting (the series didn’t get produced — it would have been great fun) when we tried to show some sympathy for Loki, neglected-son-of-Odin.  In the orignal myths, a measure of such sympathy can be found.  Stan, an advisor on the project, hated this: to him, a character was either a villain to be hated or a hero to be loved.  Loki was a villain, end of discussion.  Given Stan’s amazing track record, it was hard to argue that day that he was wrong.  For X-MEN:TAS, however, we took a different approach.  We had some out-and-out villains, but they tended to be evil, corrupt humans.  When we used a mutant to pose a threat, either to people or to the X-Men, we tended to find them far more interesting if the threatening mutant had a sympathetic side.  Magento is the prime example — supremely threatening, but still sympathetic (in our version, anyway).  We took the idea of a sympathetic threat to its limits with the two-part episode, “Proteus.”  The title creature is a huge threat to himself and humanity.  He is such a violent force of nature that he makes Wolverine break down and cry from fear.  But at the same time, he is a troubled teenage boy, the son of Professor Xavier’s first love, scientist Moira MacTaggart.  The true villain of the story is Proteus’s abusive politician father, but the threat driving the action is his troubled son.  So we had the best of both worlds: we had a spectacular creature for the X-Men to fight, but, within the same character, a loved one to save.  Luckily Stan wasn’t much invovled with X-MEN:TAS after the first season, so we didn’t have to fight him over it.  (By the way, the first part of “Proteus” was written by the late Bruce Reid Schaefer, a gentle soul and fellow Tennesseean who left us far too young.)

proteus

X-Men Show

XAVIER’S FAMILY OF ORPHANS

Interestingly, we knew very little about the parents of the X-Men we chose for X-MEN:TAS.  Jubilee was introduced as a foster child.  Scott was brought up in an orphanage (see below, from “No Mutant is an Island”).  Logan?  Beast?  Jean?  No information.  The woman who “acted” as Rogue’s mother may have been the mutant Mystique.  Other heroes lost their parents early.  Superman’s parents had to give him up as an infant to save him.  Batman’s parents that were taken from him by a criminal’s gun.  Do parents simply get in the way of heroic storytelling?  Luke Skywalker not only had lost his parents, but his aunt and uncle, his stand-in parents, were killed off to start the saga.  Do heroes need to be let loose, made alone in the world before they can become heroic?  I think X-Men has proved to be successful because Professor Xavier (whose own childhood was problematic) offered a unique twist with his “school.”  While Superman and Batman remain basically alone, Xavier has created a loving family to accept lonely would-be heroes.  The way we saw the X-Men, they could act as traditional loners — many left the X-Men for  a short time, like Scott, below, when he believed that Jean had died — or they could act for each other, as a committed unbroken family.  It was like we were able to allow them to become the heroes that they were destined to be, but then gave them supportive loved ones to come home to when they needed to.

orphanage

scott-goes-home

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Lost Weekend

Well, for once I spent a weekend without making an X-MEN:TAS post.  Sorry.  I had a defendable excuse.  The photo below shows me and eleven other riders of obscure Italian motorcycles standing at sunrise (6:30am) Saturday at Dante’s Peak, one of the definite to-do things in Death Valley.  I’ve been riding bikes for nearly as long as I’ve been reading comic books, and two of the old guys in the picture have been my riding buddies since my late teens in Tennessee.  800 miles later, I’m home and recovering, but even though I now get web-service again (none in the desert), it may be tomorrow before I can manage a proper X-MEN:TAS post.  Until then, I’m just thankful for old friends and the open road.  (If you are curious, I’m fifth from the right.)

dante-view-2016

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X-MEN:TAS WRITER E-PUBLISHES DARK COMIC NOVEL

Without Mark Edens, there would be no X-MEN:TAS as we all know and love it.  We would have stumbled through somehow, but Mark’s presence was critical to the storytelling.  Mark and I laid out the first 26 episode ideas.  He wrote the two-part opening pilot script, “Night of the Sentinels.”  Mark and I built the “Phoenix Saga” five-episode TV story, adapting it from the Claremont/Byrne books.  The network, knowing his value, asked him to come up with a big, Apocalypse-centered four-part finale (“Beyond Good and Evil”) which, before we were required to change it, was to be the wrap-up of the series.  Mark and his brother Michael had a hand in over half of the series’ scripts.  So it is exciting for me to announce that Mark has just published a darkly-comic novel, “Death Be Not Pwned.” It is available electronically on Amazon for $3.99.  Even though the creative writers and artists who crafted X-MEN:TAS can no longer display their talents on that show, there are other ways to enjoy their work.  Mark’s new book is one of them.

X-Men Show

X-MEN HUSBAND AND WIFE

The answer to yesterday’s quiz: The only love-of-his-life that romantic Wolverine ever married was Storm.  That’s right, his fellow X-Man.  But if you missed the first half of episode one of the two-parter”One Man’s Worth” you wouldn’t know.  That’s because in this story Logan and Ororo were introduced in an alternate timeline, caused by a time-traveller who went back in time and assassinated Charles Xavier before he could form the X-Men, thus creating a choatic, dystopic, and very different world — but a world/history where Logan and Ororo were husband and wife.  When Logan is offered a chance to travel back in time to save the X-Men’s world, to even allow them to exists, he at first turns the offer down.  If he were to succeed in changing history, he realizes, he and his wife would no longer be together.  He says he will condemn the whole world to keep Storm’s love.  Hero that she is, Storm talks husband Wolverine into changing his mind and going (they’ll always have Paris?).  Logan is talked by his beloved wife into making the noble, a-man’s-gotta-do-what-a-man’s-gotta-do sacrifice.  One last kiss, and he’s gone…

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HUSBAND AND WIFE LOGAN AND ORORO SAY GOODBYE

X-Men Show

WOLVERINE WEDNESDAY: The Many Loves of Logan

This Wolverine Wednesday we’re going to have a fun quiz and not an easy one.  Logan was a true romantic.  By the time we were writing X-MEN:TAS episodes in the 1990s, he was in his 90s.  He had seen much of the world and had suffered many broken hearts.  Having one of our X-MEN heroes encounter an old love was one of our favorite kinds of story.  Xavier and Moira, Gambit and his Cajun near-bride, Rogue and the boy she couldn’t kiss.  Wolverine had all sorts of old loves — a name carved into the wood of a Canadian cabin, a teen left to despair in a Japanese village.  The question today is: Within our 76 episodes, which love-of-his-life did Logan actually marry?  As a hint, we’ll print a close-up from the scene that shows proof of his commitment.  The answer will come tomorrow.

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